Cougars prep for Roadrunners

The Cougars will try to avenge their March 4 loss to Southland Conference foe Texas-San Antonio when the teams square off at 6 p.m. today at Wolff Stadium.

UH (9-17) suffered a 14-8 loss in the March 4 contest at Cougar Field after cutting a 9-3 deficit to 9-8. This will be the 22nd occasion UH has matched up with the Roadrunners, who trail the Cougars, 14-7, in the all-time series.

The Roadrunners (15-11), who are 8-4 this season when playing on their home turf, lost two out of three to Texas A&M Corpus Christi last weekend and are coming off a 16-6 loss at Texas A&M on Tuesday.

UTSA is an experienced group with six returning starters, including four seniors and a junior. Offensively, UTSA has been averaging more than 10 runs per contest during their last seven games and are led by seniors Jose Hernandez and Michael Rockett.

Hernandez, who was named Southland Conference Hitter of the Week last Monday, is batting a team-leading .391 with nine homeruns and 28 runs scored. He went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a home run when the teams met March 4. Rockett is an All-American centerfielder and leads UTSA with 39 hits. He ranks second on the team with a .591 slugging percentage.

The Roadrunners have not been impressive on the mound this season. UTSA pitching has given up at least six runs in each of their last six games, which should bode well for the Cougars, who have not scored at will for most of this season.

‘I don’t know if we have enough firepower on offense to hang with people if we get into a situation where we have to score a lot of runs,’ UH head coach Rayner Noble said. ‘We’ve got to continue to pitch well and play good defense.’

UH may not be a power-hitting machine, but it has been a scrappy team lately, racking up just enough hits to provide adequate run support for its starting pitchers.

Left fielder Caleb Ramsey has led the charge offensively, owning a team-leading .327 batting average. He also has a .439 slugging percentage to go with 35 hits and two home runs this season.

Noble noticed Ramsey’s production, so he raised him to third in the batting order from cleanup in Sunday’s 4-3 win over Tulane. Ramsey rewarded Noble’s decision, continuing his torrid stretch by going 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a run.

The Cougars will make a game-time decision, sending either freshman right-hander Mo Wiley or junior lefty Wes Musick to the mound. Wiley pitched 5.1 effective innings in his last start, a 6-4 win against Louisiana-Lafayette on March 24. Musick has struggled this season, sporting a 7.80 ERA, but has shown flashes of dominance.’

UH hopes to add to their two-game win streak after taking two of three from Tulane last weekend. In those two wins, Cougars pitchers held the Green Wave to four runs. The most impressive pitcher was Donnie Joseph, who pitched four hitless innings to earn his team-leading second and third saves of the season.

The Cougars backed up the excellent pitching with flawless defense and head coach Raynor Noble thinks replicating these types of performances will help against a team that hits as well as UTSA.

‘I just hope this ball club continues to understand what it takes to win,’ Noble said. ‘UTSA is an experienced and senior-laden team, so if we can just have good performances on the mound and in the field then we’ll stay in the ballgame and anything can happen late.’

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